Around Ohio: Tuscarawas County man sentenced to life in prison for murders of Coshocton County couple
- Published: Friday, 28 August 2015 13:24
COSHOCTON – Ohio Attorney General Mike DeWine, Coshocton County Prosecuting Attorney Jason Given, and Tuscarawas County Prosecuting Attorney Ryan Styer announced today that an Ohio man has been sentenced to serve life in prison without the possibility of parole for the January murders of a Tuscarawas County husband and wife.
Robert Clark, 30, of Dennison, pleaded guilty this morning to two counts of aggravated murder, two counts of kidnapping, and one count each of aggravated burglary, aggravated robbery, and aggravated arson in connection to the deaths of Doyle Chumney, 88, and Lillian Chumney, 79. As part of the plea agreement, all remaining charges and specifications, including death penalty specifications, were dismissed.
Following the plea, Coshocton County Common Pleas Judge Robert J. Batchelor immediately sentenced Clark to life in prison without parole.
Doyle and Lillian Chumney
The Chumneys were first reported missing from their Strasburg home on January 21, 2015, and their remains were discovered the following day in their vehicle, which was found abandoned and burned on a secluded road in Coshocton County.
According to the investigation conducted by a multi-jurisdictional task force formed to investigate the case, it is believed that Clark and his co-defendant, Jeffery Stewart, 21, of New Philadelphia, kidnapped and killed the couple after a home invasion. Authorities believe Clark shot both victims before the defendants lit their car on fire. Clark was arrested in early February in Mohave County, Arizona, after a nationwide manhunt.
The Coshocton County Prosecutor’s Office prosecuted the case with assistance from prosecutors from Attorney General DeWine’s Special Prosecutions Section and the Tuscarawas County Prosecutor's Office. Agents from the Attorney General’s Bureau of Criminal Investigation (BCI) were also part of the task force that investigated the crime.
“This brutal and senseless crime shocked those across the state and the nation, and this heartless killer deserves to spend the rest of his life in prison paying for his vicious actions," said Attorney General DeWine. "I commend the law enforcement officers and prosecutors who worked incredibly hard to bring this defendant to justice."
“Today’s plea agreement was made with the support of Mr. and Mrs. Chumney’s family, who expressed concerns about the stress of a lengthy trial, a potential death penalty sentencing phase, and appeals, which would have hindered their ability to try to find closure as it relates to the justice system,” said Coshocton County Prosecuting Attorney Jason Given. “This outcome for the family would not have been possible without the superb work of the Coshocton County Sheriff’s Office, Tuscarawas County Sheriff’s Office, and BCI."
In addition to BCI, authorities from the Coshocton County Sheriff’s Office, Strasburg Police Department, Tuscarawas County Sheriff’s Office, Coshocton County Prosecuting Attorney’s Office, Tuscarawas County Prosecuting Attorney’s Office, and Coshocton County Coroner’s Office made up the task force that investigated the case.
Stewart, who was arrested in late January after task force members released a surveillance photograph of him at an area gas station, is scheduled to go on trial in December.